The two and a half year conflict in Syria has created a humanitarian disaster that has consumed the country and spread beyond its borders. All of Syria’s neighbors have been deeply affected by the conflict, but Lebanon has been hit the hardest, said U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations Samantha Power at a United Nations Security Council open debate on the Middle East.
In a bid to escape the violence, over 2 million Syrians have abandoned their homes and sought refuge in neighboring countries. Of these, over 800,000 have crossed the border into Lebanon, the largest contingent of Syrian refugees in any country. This means that over one-fifth of the population of Lebanon is now refugees from Syria.
“Because of the nature of that conflict, and because of the influx of refugees, Lebanon faces enormous humanitarian, economic, and security challenges,” said Ambassador Power.
Because of the influx of refugees, Lebanon faces enormous humanitarian, economic, and security challenges."
To help mitigate the impact, the United States is stepping up aid to Lebanon, said Ambassador Power. “Secretary [of State John] Kerry announced that the United States will contribute an additional $30 million to help Lebanese communities cope with the rising demand for public services, including those related to infrastructure, education and health. This is in addition to the $74 million in new humanitarian assistance, which is Lebanon’s share of the $340 million in refugee-related aid announced by President [Barack] Obama during his visit to the UN General Assembly [in late October],” she said.
The United States commends Lebanon’s cooperation with the World Bank and the United Nations in developing a plan to address its growing needs, said Ambassador Power. “We look forward to reviewing that plan, and we hope it will provide a firm basis – along with relevant Security Council resolutions including 1701 – for further internationally-supported efforts to maintain Lebanon’s political progress, security, social cohesion and economic well-being.”
The United States calls on the international community to help reduce the extraordinary burdens that Lebanon – through no fault of its own – has been compelled to bear.